Devastation

Devastation.

Not the kind of devastation that happens when a building collapses or from a mud or land slide.
Personal devastation.
***
Friday morning, June 24th. I’m standing outside smoking a cigarette. I watch as an ambulance passes, lights and siren blaring. At the same time I hear the machine beep through the window.
My husband heads off to work, and I go to the computer to check my email before getting back to writing.
I get my children some breakfast, when they tell me they are hungry. I decide to go ahead and get them dressed.
About an hour has passed since the ambulance went by, and I have forgotten about it. The phone rings.
I check the caller ID and see it’s my In-Laws number.
“Hello?”
“Katie?”
“Hey, [Mother in Law]. What’s up?”
“[Father in law] killed himself this morning.”
***
911 heard the shot over the phone and my mother in law saw everything. A shotgun under the chin.
The ambulance I saw was for him. All they could do was clean up what was left behind.
The machine beeping was my mother in law. I delete the message while my husband isn’t around.
***
I call my husband. I hate to tell him over the phone, but it’s the only way to get him home from work. He has no personal leave time left.
“Is this a joke?” he asks me.
He and his father were very close. They had a shared love of music and guitars and monster models. As a boy, he would watch the Wolfman, Mummy, and Dracula movies with his father.
I’m convinced it is a joke… Some sick cosmic joke on all of us.
***
I remember the first time I met my father in law. It was before his son and I started dating. I worked with my future mother in law at a gas station. He came in to pick her up from work.
***
I make frantic phone calls for a babysitter. My dad comes through with my sister on stand-by.
I go to my mother in law.
***
“The Doyle family has had its fair share of tragedy. We’re desensitized to it by now,” my husband says to a family friend.
I wonder if he’s trying to convince the friend or himself.
His sister and unborn niece died in a car accident in 2000. She and his other sister are identical twins.
***
Once my husband gets there, I spend the rest of the day fielding phone calls and visitors. I make the calls he and his family can’t make.
The shock hasn’t worn off. I wonder if it ever will.
***
The only thing I can do is be there for my husband. My children are too young to understand. Precious knows he is in heaven now, but doesn’t understand what death really is. Little Man didn’t eat much over the weekend… He knew intuitively that something was wrong.
Today was the day of the funeral. I got up and said a few words, but I don’t really remember what I said. My husband doesn’t remember much of this past weekend. Who can blame him?
***
My father in law was a big man with an even bigger heart. At 6’7” he towered over everyone. He had back problems that cause pain in every part of his body. He had two knee replacements… Twice. He had broken his legs twice in two years. For more than 28 years he dealt with pain. With the death of his daughter and her unborn child, he felt an even more severe pain.
He had told my mother in law the pain was too much.
He was always there for anyone in need.
***
I don’t know how to comfort my husband. I’m there for him, but that’s all I can do, is be there. I wish I could do more.
***
Devastation.

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